Scammers or Spammers: Which are Worse?

Nigeria is getting a bad rap.  We’re all familiar with the scam emails, supposedly from the Nigerian consulate or some other Nigerian business, providing us the opportunity to help someone and make a whole lot of money.  Did you know there are more internet criminals traced to locations in the United States than Nigeria?  I have one of them trying to scam me.

About a month ago, I was added to a circle on Google +. Then the emails and messages started. They were long, they were riddled with errors and they asked for my help with a customer service nightmare he was going through.  He referenced one of my blog posts and included just enough true information to make me start doubting my gut instinct.  I admit it … I responded to one of his emails.  I know … always, always, always listen to your gut. That’s when I got another email, again long and riddled with errors along with a request to open the attached .pdf and the potential to receive tens of thousands of dollars if I helped him fix his problem.  I did not open the attachment.  Instead I blocked his email address and reported his Google account as fraudulent.  He then phoned my business and left a phone number along with a message to call him.  I did a reverse look up on the phone number and surprise, surprise … it did not match the name left.  A search for his company name turned up absolutely nothing.  His phone number is now also blocked. The next step is reporting him to the internet fraud line a friend of mine told me about.  (As an aside, I have since found out that because gmail accounts are free and easy to get, scammers are using them more and more often.)

These scammers are good. With the huge amount of information available on various social media sites, they are able to customize their messaging.  The company he said he was having a problem with is real and the problem he mentioned fit the company profile. That, in addition to the references to specific blog posts, caused me to second guess myself for just a moment.

Just as frustrating as the scammers are the spammers.  For a few days last month, my IP address was blocked because someone on my shared server was sending out spam. Fortunately, that was an easy fix.  I purchased a dedicated IP address and seeing as I simply do not spam, that problem should be resolved.

Now if only it was that easy to get off spammers lists.  From a customer service perspective, why do you want to give your company a bad name by sending out unwanted and unasked for emails? Why do you assume that because I gave you permission to send me one piece of information that gives you permission to add me to all your lists? Why do you assume that just because we exchanged business cards, you have my permission to send me your newsletter and promotional emails?  In my humble opinion, that is a breach of trust.

I’ve had marketers tell me that I’m missing out on touch points, that I’m not being aggressive enough. I refuse to buy into that.  Here is my promise to you.  I will never put you on any mailing list without your permission. I will not try and trick you into opening my email by adding Re: into the subject line to make you think I am responding to an email you never sent.  I will not start sending you multiple messages and emails through social media sites because you were gracious enough to include me in  your circle of friends or business acquaintances.

To me, success is defined by integrity, honesty and a positive reputation.  If that means the money comes in a little slower, I am good with that.

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